U.S. designates Boko Haram’s Abu Abdullah ibn Umar al-Barnawi as a global terrorist


The United States on Tuesday designated Abu Abdullah ibn Umar al-Barnawi of the Islamic State West Africa also known as Boko Haram as a ‘global terrorist’.

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the announcement at a news conference in Washington DC.

al-Barnawi is a Nigerian Islamic militant who was the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s branch in West Africa (ISWAP) between August 2016 and March 2019 when unconfirmed rumor began to circulate that he had been replaced.

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He was the spokesperson for Boko Haram before it pledged allegiance to ISIL in 2015. It is not clear where he is now or what role he’s still playing in the terrorist organization that has killed many people in Nigeria this year.

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“Abu Abdullah ibn Umar al-Barnawi, Amir of ISIS-West Africa, was previously active in Boko Haram,” the Trump administration said, without much details on what the new designation meant.

Several other organizations and persons were also designated as global terrorists.

The announcement came the same day President Trump fired his National Security Adviser, John Bolton, although Bolton claimed he had offered to resign the night before.

“Today, the President signed an Executive Order modernizing and strengthening sanctions authorities to combat terrorism.  Today’s Executive Order is the most significant update of terrorist designation authorities since the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, and will enable the United States to more effectively sanction the leaders of terrorist organizations and those who train to commit acts of terrorism,” Pompeo said.

“The State Department is moving aggressively to implement these new authorities.  Today, the Department designated Hurras al-Din, an al-Qa’ida-affiliated group in Syria, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT).  The Department has also designated as SDGTs 12 leaders of previously designated groups, including Hizballah, HAMAS, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, ISIS, ISIS-Philippines, ISIS-West Africa, and Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan.  In addition to these actions, the Department of the Treasury has designated 15 terrorists affiliated with ISIS, ISIS-Philippines, ISIS-Khorasan, al-Qa’ida, HAMAS, and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force under the same authority.

“Today’s actions seek to deny these terrorists the resources to plan and carry out attacks.  All of their property and interests in property subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with them.

  • Noor Wali: Noor Wali, also known as Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud, was named the leader of Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in June 2018 following the death of former TTP leader Mullah Fazlullah.  Under Noor Wali’s leadership, TTP has claimed responsibility for numerous deadly terrorist attacks across Pakistan.
  • Marwan Issa: Marwan Issa is the deputy commander of the Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, the operational arm of HAMAS.
  • Muhammad al-Hindi: Muhammad al-Hindi is the Deputy Secretary General of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
  • Baha’ Abu al-‘Ata: Baha’ Abu al-‘Ata, a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s Higher Military Council, is a commander of the Gaza and North Battalion in the Al-Quds Brigade.
  • Ali Karaki: Ali Karaki, is a senior leader within Hizballah’s Jihad Council. He led Mu’awaniyeh 105 (Southern Command) and was responsible for military operations in southern Lebanon.  Southern Command was divided into five geographic fronts (Mihwar), each consisting of a group of villages in a geographically contiguous strip.
  • Muhammad Haydar: Muhammad Haydar is a senior leader within Hizballah’s Jihad Council.  Haydar was the Chief of Bureau 113, and ran Hizballah networks operating outside of Lebanon and appointed leaders of various units.  He was very close to deceased senior Hizballah official Imad Mughniyah.  In 2004, Haydar was elected to the Lebanese Parliament.
  • Fu’ad Shukr: Fu’ad Shukr, a senior Hizballah Jihad Council member, oversaw Hizballah’s specialized weapons units in Syria, including its missile and rocket unit.  He is a senior military advisor to Hizballah Secretary General Hasan Nasrallah and played a central role in the planning and execution of the October 23, 1983 U.S. Marine Corps Barracks Bombing in Beirut, Lebanon, which killed 241 U.S. service personnel.
  • Ibrahim ‘Aqil: Ibrahim ‘Aqil, a senior Hizballah Jihad Council member, is Hizballah’s military operations commander.
  • Hajji Taysir: Hajji Taysir is an ISIS senior leader and reports to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.  As the ISIS Wali of Iraq and former amir of improvised explosive devices, Hajji Taysir likely ordered IED attacks in the region.  He was considered a booby-trap expert while working in ISIS’ booby-trap headquarters in 2016.
  • Abu Abdullah ibn Umar al-Barnawi: Abu Abdullah ibn Umar al-Barnawi, Amir of ISIS-West Africa, was previously active in Boko Haram.
  • Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan: Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan is the amir of ISIS-Philippines and is the mastermind behind the January 27, 2019 Jolo City cathedral bombing that killed 23 and wounded 109.
  • Hurras al-Din: Hurras al-Din is an al-Qa’ida-affiliated jihadist group that emerged in Syria in early 2018 after several factions broke away from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.
  • Faruq al-Suri: Syrian national Faruq al-Suri, also known as Abu Humam al-Shami, is the leader of Hurras al-Din and a former al-Nusra Front military commander in Syria.

“Terrorist designations expose and isolate organizations and individuals, and deny them access to the U.S. financial system.  Moreover, designations can assist the law enforcement activities of U.S. agencies and other governments.

“This Administration will continue to aggressively use all levers of American power, including financial sanctions, to target terrorists who plot murderous operations to indiscriminately kill innocent civilians around the world, and those who enable, facilitate, and finance their heinous acts”.


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Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba covers the White House, the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions for Today News Africa in Washington D.C. Simon can be reached on simonateba@todaynewsafrica.com


  1. Boko Haram was an uprising by a group of Muslims against the Nigerian government, due to grievious treatment of their sect. But it was later coopted by certain interests, who used it to oust Jonathan and seat Buhari. Upon election, Buhari hastily scrapped all the measures GEJ took such as road blocks, use of foreign soldiers. He claimed they were defeated, and their activities ceased. It was accused that Boko Haram were his instruments, and within days they issued a threat against Buhari and initiated some attacks. An obvious attempt to show no association to Buhari. Furthermore Buhari freed their captives, claimed them to be reformed and conscripted them into the army. Since then there have been several ambushes in the army where over 2000 mostly Christian soldiers have been killed. Terrorists routinely steal equipment and recently billions of dollars from the government that the army was moving for some unknown reason. There is appalling evident complicity betwen Buhari gov and terrorists, who are known to be members of his ethnic group. They have systematically committed atrocities across the country, and rigged elections to keep Buhari in office as they take territory from indigent tribes of Nigeria as well as stealing money. In this climate, Buhari has deliberately undermined the defenses of the nation, issuing an order for all citizens to be disarmed, rather than creating more robust defense across communities. Many states are under seige by terrorists, totally surrounded with no response by the gov. Several incidents of soldiers attacking police forces to free their captured terrorists. The country is grossly compromised. Intervention is needed to allow people to defend themselves,form adequate security forces and work with foreign soldiers to defend their communities. There are increasing and strategic massacres to drive citizens out of their lands and when that occurs Buharis ethnic group occupies the land. They are known for all the conflicts across Subsaharan Africa. Countermeasures are needed to check their rogue ambitions before Nigeria and Africa becomes the theater of war.


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